Democrats Liken Federally Funded Viagra to Federally Funded Abortion
December 8, 2009 - 5:45 PMThe debate on the Senate floor Tuesday about whether to add an amendment to the Senate health care bill that prohibits the use of federal funds for abortion has led some senators to compare a woman getting the procedure to a man who gets a prescription for a sexual enhancement drug such as Viagra or Cialis.
They have also referred to these drugs as part of reproductive health care for men.
“Imagine if the men in this chamber had to fill out a form and get a rider for Viagra or Cialis and it was public.” Sen. Barbara Boxer said during debate on the Nelson-Hatch amendment. “Forget about it. There would be a rage in this chamber.”
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) also used the comparison, saying that he wanted his daughters and granddaughters to have access to all “reproductive health care.”
“What if we were to vote on a Viagra amendment and it had the same limits would apply for abortion?” Lautenberg said during Tuesday’s debate, adding that the reaction would be “outrage.”
Boxer, Lautenberg and other Democrats opposed the amendment that Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) introduced on Monday which would explicitly ban any federal dollars from being used for abortion. They said that it would discriminate against women by limiting access to abortion while allowing men access to “reproductive health care services,” including drugs like Viagra and Cialis.
But Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), co-sponsor of the amendment, said during the debate that the majority of Americans do not support using federal dollars to pay for abortion under any circumstance, especially those who are morally opposed to the procedure.
“Why should people of conscience be forced to participate in any aspect of abortion?” Hatch said.
Nelson rejected the claim by Democrats that the amendment would prohibit women from using their own money to pay for an abortion or an insurance policy that covers abortion or requires them to get a special rider to have it covered in their insurance.
“It only ensures that when taxpayer dollars are involved, people aren’t required to pay for other people’s abortion,” Nelson said.
In a narrow vote of 54 to 45, the Senate on Tuesday evening rejected Nelson’s amendment – a move that could prompt him to fulfill his threat to filibuster the bill unless it includes restrictions on taxpayer-funded abortion.
Seven Democrats, including Sen. Robert Casey of Pennsylvania, voted in favor of the amendment, while two Republicans – Maine Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins – voted against it.